God stoops to lift you – Psalm 113

When we’re low for any reason, it’s good to be reminded that God stoops down to lift you up. And that must always result in praise! Psalm 113 starts with “Praise the LORD” – “Hallelujah”.

I know someone who thinks that must mean God is actually not that great.

  • Is he like a little child, always wanting someone to say, “Well done, aren’t you wonderful!”?
  • Or is he maybe a bit lonely, and needs us to praise him to bring him some comfort?

We’re going to see exactly why you should praise him. And if this means anything to you at all, you’ll soon realise that you won’t need to be told to praise him – you’ll do it naturally. What’s more, to praise him is good for your soul.

These notes accompany a sermon on YouTube. You can find more in the series in our Sermon Index.

Praise the LORD (1-3)

Read Psalm 113:1-3 noticing the phrase “the name of the LORD”

  • Three times, “the name of the LORD”
  • Five times, “the LORD”
  • “Praise” gets three mentions in the first verse alone!

It’s not hard to spot the theme: Praise the LORD! What do we mean by “the name of the LORD”. We mean much! Back in Exodus 3, Moses was taken in by the sight of a burning bush. It was odd, because the bush was engulfed in flame but wasn’t consumed by it. Moses went for a closer look, and God spoke to him. God was commissioning Moses to lead his people out of Egypt.

Moses asked God an interesting question: “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” (Exodus 3:13).

The reply was remarkable: God replied to Moses, “I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.”  

  • In the Old Testament, when you see the words The LORD in capitals, it translates “Yahweh” (“Jehovah” in some translations).
  • The word is related to the verb “to be” – something like “He is”. Except he is “I am”! He just “is”.
  • He exists. God didn’t come from anywhere; he is.
  • God doesn’t change, for better or worse, in any way. He is.
  • Anything other than God that exists has been created by him – stuff, light, gravity, even time.
  • God is. He exists independent of his creation; his creation is entirely depended on him, because on he is.


But the description to Moses went on: God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.”

  • Not only is God, the LORD, Yahweh our creator.
  • He is also one who enters into covenant relationships with his people (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob).
  • So he will redeem his people from slavery and then keep his people to himself.

We got here thinking about God’s “name”. These echoes of Exodus will be spelt out more explicitly in the next psalm, next time. And, obviously, a core part of the Exodus was the Passover – so this psalm was traditionally sung as part of the Passover feast every year. Psalm 113 & 114 before the meal, then Psalms 115-118 after the meal. Not a surprise that Christ and his disciples “sung a hymn” after that final Passover meal.

And as Christ is our Passover lamb, we also sing this psalm in praise of God – our creator, our covenant maker and keeper, our redeemer. Psalm 113 tells you where and when to praise your creator and redeemer: “Now and for forever. Everywhere – from east to west”

  • He is your creator, outside of time and space.
  • There is no place and no time not to praise him.

You might praise the beauty of a flower. Or maybe praise the Himalayas, or the Grand Canyon. You praise them because they are amazing and your enjoyment of them is completed in praise.

Praise the LORD, your infinite Creator and Redeemer, because of who he is. Glorious in splendour, power, and majesty.

More reasons are given:

The LORD is high above all (4-6)

The incomparable nature of God is brought out for praise next. Read Psalm 113:4-6.

Scientists don’t know how big the Universe is.

  • It’s estimated that there might be 100-200 billion galaxies in the Universe (some estimate more).
  • Our galaxy, the Milky Way, has maybe 400 billion stars (suns) and maybe 100 million planets.
  • Space is hopelessly vast, and will never be charted by humans.
  • But God looks down on it all.

He sustains it all, even. God is independent of his Creation, but his Creation depends on him for its existence because only he is by his own nature. He sustains it in all its weirdness.

  • Things like photons and electrons are far stranger than you ever learned at school.
  • They can behave as particles (little ball bearings) or as waves – depending on how you look at them.
  • They don’t even properly exist in any given place until you look at them.

But God makes all of that work, across the whole Universe, most of which will never be known to human eye or mind. “Who can be compared with the LORD our God, who is enthroned on high? He stoops to look down on heaven and on earth.” (Psalm 113:5-6)

You and God

Would you dare rebel against him? He has established you and given you moral autonomy in his Universe. He sustains the cells in your brain. Would you use those brain cells to rebel against him? Yes. Yes you would. And you do. Isn’t that so foolish?

Or, more positively, why would you not trust him? If he can be trusted to create with such power and wonder, you can trust him to do miracles, can’t you? You can trust him to give life, and to take it.

More positively still, won’t you “praise the LORD” that he does actually stoop down from his Creator’s throne, and turn to you?

Because here’s where it gets personal:

God stooped down to lift you up (7-9)

Read Psalm 113:7-9.

This God, this creator, who has to stoop down even to look at the heavens above you, has reached further down still – to you. He reaches down from heavenly splendour, to reach those whose lives are dust.

  • Our whole lives are ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
  • But God, the LORD, who is, lifts his people out of the dust.
  • He exalts the lowest of us to the highest of places.

It’s so lovely it sounds like it’s just poetry. Too good to be true. And verse 9 seems especially specific, don’t you think? “He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother.”

In fact, that’s your clue that these words are from elsewhere in the Bible. Verse 7-9 are almost word-for-word in Hannah’s song. Back in 1 Samuel 1-2, Hannah was a godly woman who was barren. She prayed to the LORD for a son, and she conceived. She sang a song to the LORD, which included the words of v7-9 here. Her son would be Samuel (of 1 & 2 Samuel).

He was the last of the Old Testament Judges and would see the introduction of the time of Kings (Saul, then David). Samuel would be the prophet who would anoint David as God’s king. “He lifts the poor from the dust… he sets them among princes…” (Psalm 113:7)

Bible babies

Times of significant change in the Bible are often marked by births of children. E.g:

  • Moses’ birth and upbringing would usher in the Exodus of God’s people, their identification as God’s nation, and the introduction of the Old Covenant.
    • A prophet like Moses would one day rise, too.
  • Samuel’s birth would mark the end of the time of the Judges and usher in the time of the kings. 
    • In particular, under David, there would be a promise of an eternal kingdom.

In the New Testament, another young woman sang a song at the thought of her pregnancy.

  • Mary’s song of praise celebrated the birth of the Saviour.
  • Jesus, the prophet of a New Covenant.
  • The king and priest in the order of Melchizedek who would live and reign and intercede for his people forever!

Christ Jesus, who came into the world to save sinners – you and me.

  • Jesus, the eternal Word who was with God and who was God in the beginning.
  • Christ, through whom and for whom all things were created.
  • He is the one who has stooped down from eternal splendour and majesty. He reached down to the dust of humanity, to save you.

Is is a small thing that God should enter into humanity to save you? No, it’s not. Will you reject so great a salvation forever? I hope not. You can do nothing to save yourself – you’re dust. You are the needy in the garbage dump (of v7). And you are the one he stooped down to lift to life.

He calls you to life.

He calls you to repent of the sin that leads you to death, and trust him to forgive – because Christ entered this world specifically to be punished in your place.

The God who was, and is, and will always be – the Great I AM – has stooped down to raise you from the dust to be with him in glory. He became like you so that you could be like him – perfect, alive for evermore.

He is utterly glorious in his own perfect existence, and worthy of praise for that.

The Lord is glorious in his creative power and wonder, and in how he sustains all things that exist. Praise him for that.

And when we think of glory, we often think of triumph, trophies, success, adoration, ticker-tape parades, crowds and adulation.

  • But the Lord Jesus Christ is more glorious yet.
  • His glory is displayed in his gracious condescension, descending from splendour to stoop down to you.
  • Derek Kidner nails it: “It is here that God’s glory most sharply differs from man’s: a glory that is equally at home ‘above the heavens’ (4) and at the side of one forlorn person.”
  • He is glorious in his tender love to you.

“Who can be compared with the LORD our God?” (v5)

Praise the LORD! That’s the application: Praise the LORD. For who he is, what he’s done, and his tender love to you.